Portrait of the Virtual agency, born of a passion for the agri-food sector | Isarta Info

Negib Kesrouani (left) is the designer of the NFT collection, mentioned in the text. Safia Barrou (centre) is the project’s logistics manager and director of the Virtual agency. Alexis Michel (right) is the marketing manager of the project

August 11, 2022

In 2018, Safia Barrou owns a café in Montreal. His work gives him the opportunity to rub shoulders with several agricultural producers as well as other players in the food industry. Passionate about this field, the one who specializes in marketing as well as photography then decides to found the Virtual agency. Based in the heart of Montreal, it specializes in food marketing and communications. We asked him a few questions about his agency and his projects.

A host of communications and marketing companies exist in Montreal. So, what distinguishes an agency specializing in the agricultural and agri-food sectors? First, note that agency employees are trained in biosafety.

When filming is done on a farm or in the presence of animals, there are technical considerations to be observed. We cannot arrive on the scene with the same equipment as for a more standard shoot, explains Safia. Of course, the agency’s employees also have in-depth knowledge of the agri-food sector. They know what will speak most to their customers’ target audience, which is usually other businesses in the agriculture and agri-food sector.

The digital shift: one of the major challenges in the industry

For Safia Barrou, one of the main challenges for actors in the agricultural and agri-food sector is to do a lot with little. Indeed, they generally do not have the same resources as the big players in other industries. We should add that many are unfamiliar with marketing and do not always know where to start when it comes time to promote their products. This is where the Virtual agency team can help them.

In 2020-2021, when contacts were restricted and events like agricultural fairs were cancelled, the agency helped several clients make the switch to digital. This was a tall order in an industry where, traditionally, face-to-face relationships have always been very important. Today, Safia Barrou believes that this shift will have created a great synergy between the virtual and more traditional means of sale such as agricultural fairs and trade shows.

An NFT project dedicated to agriculture and sugar bushes

Even if the agency evolves in a sector often seen as rather traditional, it is not afraid to embark on avant-garde projects. At the beginning of the summer, it launched The Maple Mission, a collection of Quebec NFTs aimed at creating a connection between the agricultural industry and the world of NFTs. By purchasing an NFT from The Maple Mission collection, the agency hopes that holders can contribute directly to the preservation of sugar bushes in Canada and, by default, to the survival of maple syrup.

Recently, the image of NFTs and cryptocurrencies has been somewhat splashed by the fall of the markets as well as different stories of fraud. But Safia Barrou does not take offense. With The Maple Mission, the objective is above all to democratize the NFT as well as to help local producers of maple products.

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